Monday, April 15, 2013

An Intimate Encounter with Décolletage


It needs to be said that I am compelled to greet some days with a gaunt face and heavy-lidded eyes. Sometimes my sense of the past, which lies buried in uncertainty and incompletion, pokes out and demands attention. It confirms what I discern: I crave a fresh start. No foot dragging for a day or two, at least. If the silence is unbearably painful I shall manage the chaos with unconscious humour. I've subtlety managed it before, though not for long.  

My wife tells me that I - sorry, we - live in a decrepit one bedroom semi-detached house. The only excitement entering our existence is by the back door: a brief violent storm, a mouth opening to scream, or a neighbour recalling their time as an FBI agent when they were disguised as fish to catch draft dodgers disguised as wood thrush.

Our living room wears a weary tragic expression. I look at my wife who is sitting slightly hunched. Her face is contorted and tight with anger. She was beautiful once - a pale complexion, fine full lips and long brown hair. Not now. Her beauty is well spent.

She glares at me. 'I've sent you a text. Read it.' Her voice is unnaturally loud. My strength deserts me as I read the message: I DONT DO STAGNATION! To avoid engaging with my wife I remain silent; my mind a dispassionate organ. I do not mind silence, unless it sighs with impatience, vies for attention, or makes hypocritical remarks. Then it bores the hell out of me.

I leave my wife grumbling to herself and climb up the chimney breast. No forwarding address or contact number is necessary. If she needs me she can ring the police. I calmly climb up the chimney breast. Midway I gaze in bewilderment. A woman wearing a short skirt and stockings is staring at me suspiciously in the semidarkness. We gaze back and forth at each other. 

I speak first. 'What ... your name?' My heartbeat is sharp and nervous. 

'I don't expect you to know my name, even though we've been neighbours for seven years. Isn't that disheartening and disorienting?' After a short pause she says, 'My name is Angie. I came in here to breathe fresh air and to get away from the quietness of my home. My husband lacks the imagination to understand my human body and mind. He keeps himself busy all day without doing anything that might evoke spontaneity, acuity or craziness. He is morally hygienic except where sweet girls and women are concerned. The charming creature wants us both to live out our days like skeletons. Can you believe it?'  

I don't say a word while she talks. All this confiding of family circumstances makes me uncomfortable. She takes makeup out of  her bag and dabs powder round her eyes.

Her wide, dark eyes smile with secret amusement. 'You don't look like a chimney sweep. I can tell you've been crowned with the mysteries of grip and pleasure.'

Angie's flirtatiousness makes me vulnerable. I'm mesmerized by the swell of her décolletage. 'My husband and I are not young lovers any more. I'm sure you hear our awful fights. Our marriage is floundering, quite badly. I never know where his mouth has been the night before, and vice versa.' 

She leans over and kisses me with grace and style. I vibrate with life, time slows down. I remain free of real and imagined comparisons. Without hesitation we slowly make love. It's difficult to explain the genesis and nature of our meeting, passion and parting. I have no idea what she was really thinking or wanting. Could it have been a successful exercise of power on her behalf? Was she a slave to the dreadful torment of destroyed love, jealousy, or fruitless envy? 

When I climb down from the chimney breast and enter my living room the potent scent of bonding, impetuosity and happiness disappears. The sense of isolation I feel grows into gradual despair.   
*
Reflections:  One source of pleasure for me is looking after my granddaughter, Lily, while my daughter, Emma, goes to work. Sometimes I lie beside Lily (ten months old, now) willing her to sleep, and watch as her eyes open and shut, and finally close. Her fingers fall free from gripping my thumb.

Before I silently leave Lily to sleep and dream, I gaze at the graceful little face; her beautiful, soft skin and delicate frame. I realise how fleeting life can be. I softly squeeze her tiny hand like a terrified child. Occasionally, I feel tearful, but am not ashamed. For what is prettier, more significant, more unforgettable, than a rosy-cheeked baby in the throes of slumber.